Okay, stay with me here because this is where it gets complicated. In this one I’ll be talking about films, that (get this), I think, are good. I tried to subtly imply that with the title but I wasn’t sure whether I was too subtle or not. So, here goes.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
This film is so good it almost makes up for [insert terrible Melissa McCarthy film, and let’s face it, there’s a fucking lot of them). This is a good one to start this blog off with actually, and not just because it’s alphabetically the first in the list. This one has a definitive thing which stops it being anything better than “good” in my eyes. It has almost zero narrative suspense. You better get used to that concept because it’s going to come back in a big f*cking way later on in this blog. The trailer showed her being put on trial for her crimes, but the entire film is seeing the scheme unfold, the trial isn’t until near the very end. So what we’re doing is watching people hatch a plan that we as an audience know doesn’t work. It’s not just that for me. The music and visual style were weird. They were good but they make it hard to place it in the time frame. They make it seem as though it happened a lot earlier than it did. The film is set in 1991 but the colour scheme used in the film, and the soundtrack, make it seem like it’s set from the 1960’s or earlier. So when you do get something 90’s happening, it can be somewhat jarring. I recognise that’s just a personal opinion, but this entire blog is a personal opinion, so meh.
I think I may need to watch this film again to fully come to terms with it. It’s a deeply flawed film, but it is incredibly fascinating to watch. Part of that is the performances, but also the pacing is pretty damn good too. It’s slow, but it is constantly moving forward. So the story is constantly going, albeit much slower than you may be used to. It also doesn’t treat the audience like they’re stupid, it’s a much more fulfilling film if you notice little details and remember certain situations repeating themselves. It just doesn’t, for some particular reason, stand out as a film that I have a great personal love for. I appreciate it more than I liked it, but I did appreciate it a lot.
+The cookie-cutter scene. A great moment to hear the entire audience wince at once.
-Occasionally struggles to hold the attention of the audience.
Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans
I thought I loved this film, but it’s been out on DVD for a few weeks now and I have no desire to go out and buy it immediately, so I guess I didn’t. It was funny enough, but I guess it was just a little bit too childish for my tastes. I know, a children’s film was childish, how dare it? If I was younger I’d probably have liked it enough to annoy my parents by constantly watching it. This is never more evident than during one of the songs which completely brings the film to a halt and goes on too long. It’s weird as there are other moments where it seems like the filmmakers have a firm eye on the adults in the audience, references to Monty Python, Jay-Z etc you can argue the kids might understand. But does anybody really think that there are any kids who would understand a reference to the 1970’s television show I, Claudius?
+Battle Of Watling Street song. It advances the narrative, is funny, and incredibly catchy.
-The Nero song is kind of cringy
IT: Chapter Two
The further I distance myself from this film, the less I enjoy it as the faults become obvious. The flashbacks contain zero dramatic tension in them as you know the characters are not going to die. It’s also extremely unsatisfying in terms of expanding the lore. It feels like there’s a lot of stuff left to say, but not in an exciting way, but in a way that the whole thing feels unfinished. The way the film is structured and the lore is revealed makes it seem like there’s a third one, but there’s not, so it’s just a bit strange. It’s also way too fucking long. If you include trailers and traffic time you were looking at almost a 4-hour commitment, and that’s just too much.
This film is weird, in a good way, mostly. The tonal shifts are a bit jarring though. It goes from incredibly serious to Ryan Reynolds in a fucking instant. The humour too is slightly inconsistent, ranging from simple slapstick and dick jokes, then suddenly you get a joke about torturing someone for information by pouring petrol on them and setting them ablaze. So strange, yet kind of wonderful.
+The visual world-building is incredible. It all feels real.
-Some of the human characters are so flat they’re almost 2-dimensional
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark
I expected this to be a bit lighter than it was. I basically expected something similar to Goosebumps. This feels more like the next natural progression from those films. So a kid would watch goosebumps, then this, then start killing everybody as that’s what horror films cause people to do, obviously. After watching the Nightmare On Elm Street series I went through a phase of haunting people’s dreams and killing them in increasingly outlandish ways. That stopped when I watched the Saw movies and just became awful. So, this film. It’s not original, but it is a very good watch. It has some great body horror moments in. Actually, that’s a point I haven’t mentioned, the variety of scares in this. It has a somewhat scattergun approach to them so if there’s not one fear that works there’s another which will. It’s a risky approach but it’s really effective in this.
-A bit too restrained at times, plus I found one of the characters really annoying.
Stan And Ollie
This was the first film I saw in 2019. So the film got off on a pretty good year. Very heartwarming and emotional. Maybe my opinion of it was somewhat muted by not knowing much about the pair. As such I couldn’t really catch any references, also the film didn’t give much background about the pair, assuming we were familiar with them. Because of this I always felt slightly like I was watching two strangers, as opposed to two characters.
+It seems very honest. Fully aware that they have flaws and made mistakes.
-Too slow at times
This is very funny, but that’s all it is. It never goes beyond that. If I caught this on netflix I’d love it. But paying full price at the cinema sours it somewhat. This would have been the perfect film for video rental stores. It’s not quite good enough to push either of the leads into superstardom (they are huge, but not like “build a multi-million dollar franchise around them” huge yet), but it is a worthwhile addition to both of their filmographies. I really wish this was better, but it just doesn’t do enough to take it to the next level. Plus there’s one scene which just feels like padding and takes you out completely.
-A few moments take you out of the film and remind you that what you are watching is not real.
The Day Shall Come
It’s funny because it’s true, but it’s also super depressing for the exact same reason. I don’t mind downer endings sometimes, but in this case it just seemed odd. The film had spent 90 minutes punching you in the face and it never gave you that catharsis of a happy ending. I don’t think it was helped by the high standards I have of the creator. His stuff is some of my favourite stuff of all time, so when something is only very good, it seems worse by comparison.
So that’s it for this one. Don’t worry, I’m finishing with 2019 soon, I realise now I’m stuck more in the past than an Empire fanatic (both British and Imperial/Galactic), and so far from 2020 the films have been good. So you’ve got that to look forward to.
Is this the best horror movie of the year? Well it’s definitely better than Ma and Escape Room, and scarier than Happy Death Day 2 U and Child’s Play. The only one that can really match it is Us, which I loved. I think this Us is better, but only marginally. It’s not so much what this film is lacking which brings it down, it’s what it contains; far too much. This film is far, far too long. It’s almost 3 hours long and doesn’t need to be. There’s a lot of padding, a lot of repeating what we already know, and a lot of things that don’t go anywhere. Not just scenes, there are entire sub-plots which aren’t really necessary. Yes, it was good to see Henry Bowers as a psychopathic adult, but it barely adds anything to the plot and if you cut it out it wouldn’t really affect the plot. He may have been important in the book, but they’ve changed over things, and he was so ineffectual that I don’t think anybody would have really missed him. The opening is also a waste of time, if I’m being honest. It’s about two gay characters being attacked by a homophobic gang, ending in one of the two being thrown off a bridge where his partner witnessed him being attacked by Pennywise. It looks like the gang of homophobic assholes are going to be a big fixture in this film, like Bowers was in the first film, but they never appear again. Also not appearing again; the surviving character. He witnesses his partner being eaten by Pennywise, and is never seen again in the film. He could have been an important part, an outsider in the Losers club.
Despite the excessive runtime, there are a lot of things that are underutilised, one of which is Pennywise himself. There is also a problem with consistency, you’re not quite sure whether things are real or illusions, so you don’t know whether things have consequences, and it’s arguable about whether the film itself even knows. It also features possibly one of the most embarassing scenes in 2019 horror when a really tense moment suddenly has a really out-of-place use of the song “Angel Of The Morning” in a way that I think was supposed to be comedic, but it didn’t really work at all as it was the coda of a really intense section.
Arguably, I think this film would have been better as a trilogy. The first one as the younger characters, the second one as the older, and the third switching between the two (or switch the third and second one). There’s too much story to tell so you can’t do it all in this period of time. For this to have worked they would have needed to make all 3 at the same time, which would be fine. It also would have cut down on the flashbacks in this movie, which threaten to overrule the story. It’s hard for a lot of the flashback scenes to work that effectively because they lack tension. The reason for this is because we know the characters survive as we’ve seen the older versions of them, so we know that no matter what, nothing too bad will happen.
Despite that, despite ALL that, I did really enjoy this film. When it was creepy it was incredibly unsettling, and when it was funny it was very funny (with two notable exceptions). The performances are also great, McAvoy continues to be one of the best performers in every movie he’s in, all the cast from the first movie continue to be great too. The real MVP though; Bill Hader. I didn’t know he had this performance in him, he nails every aspect of the character. His jokes, his guilt, and his insecurity are played perfectly by him.
It does also feature a semi-distracting Stephen King cameo though. Although that cameo does consist of him telling a character who is clearly based on him “I like your books but your endings suck”, which made me laugh. So yeah, definitely go see this, preferably at the cinema for the best experience.
Our final look back at 2017, after this it’s onwards and upwards as we look forward to the wonders of 2018 (by which I mean, Coco, Ghost Stories, and Three Billboards, two of which I’ve already seen, so really the year is all downhill from here)
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
The entire film sinks or swims on his performance. If he doesn’t give a good performance then this entire film sinks. The writing, the directing, it’s all for nothing if you don’t buy the central performance. Fortunately, he’s superb. Not just vocally, visually he just owns this performance. Starting off seeming really cocky and arrogant, then ending up terrified. If this doesn’t lead to him leading more films then I officially give up on Hollywood.
I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?
Jason Sudeikis. – Colossal
Genuinely creepy and unsettling. Brilliant. I expected his performance to be comedic and one-note but he managed to turn in a magnificent performance that made him seem like the creepiest person on the planet, but believable. You could see his thought processes in play and knew why he was thinking like that. The revelation about his creepy persona makes sense because of how well it’s been set up. A sign of not only a great performance, but also great writing.
Hugh Jackman – Logan
This is a personal choice, because I didn’t think he could do as much as he did in this. The way he carries the character contains a lot of backstory. He’s no longer the invincible hero, he’s playing him as someone who knows his time is up. Someone who knows he’s not long for this world and is struggling to face his own mortality. It’s a depressing performance for a comic book film, but works wonderfully.
McKenna Grace – Gifted
Want to know how good this performance was? It was a performance by a child actor that I didn’t hate. The character is a know-it-all smartass. So it would be incredibly easy for her character to come off as annoying and pretentious. The way McKenna plays her, however, is great. She’s played as someone who knows the downside of her intelligence, someone who knows that whilst she is much smarter than her uncle/caregiver, that doesn’t necessarily mean she knows more than him. It’s played with a slight vulnerability to her which renders her incredibly easy to root for and support. No idea where she, as an actress goes from here but I’m intrigued.
And she had great chemistry with Chris Evans
Anne Hathaway – Colossal
I do love Anne Hathaway. She’s most known for romantic comedies sadly but has a phenomenal range. For proof of this watch Rachel Getting Married, she gives an amazing performance as a recovering addict haunted by her past choices. She’s just as good in this. Some of that is obviously down to the script, but a lot of it is down to the performance. She plays someone who is broken incredibly well, I’d like to see her as a psychopathic killer in a film.
Mandy Moore – 47 Meters Down
Yes, THAT Mandy Moore. What do you mean, who’s that and what’s that song? Do you people have no respect for late 90’s pop? Damn kids, get off my lawn! Anyway, in this, she was very, very, good. So good that I forgot I was watching a former pop star and just got heavily invested in the story. I kind of forgot I was an actress and felt I was watching actual people. That’s not the easiest thing to do.
Very bad, but all the worst because it had a good concept. If a film is just bad, that’s okay, if a film is bad but has the potential to be good, I find that a lot harder to forgive. Even the good parts of the film seem to have come from other, better films.
Dull, dull, dull. So boring. I’ve suffered from insomnia for years and this film almost put me to sleep. It almost feels like it would take effort to make an action film this dull, so in some ways, it’s actually quite impressive.
The Belko experiment
It runs out of ideas before the trailer has even finished. Would be a great short, but as a feature-length film, it’s an abomination.
The Dark Tower
“surely this isn’t as bad as everybody says?” It is. It really is. And serves as more proof that Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent.
Best Film Moment
Atomic Blonde: The Stairwell Fight
I am a sucker for a good really long shot. Especially in action sequences. I love nothing better than a fight scene where you can almost feel the impact of every hit, where’s there no cutaway before every impact. If one of those goes on for a minute I’m in heaven. I know that doesn’t seem long, but sit back and time that out, and picture a fight scene with no cuts lasting that long. Bit difficult isn’t it? This was NEARLY 10 MINUTES! Now this isn’t actually, one shot, it’s just edited like that, but it’s still a really impressive feat and is visually magnificent. The seemingly unedited nature of it means when the character hits someone, you really feel it. It feels like a fight, rather than a fight scene. It’s actually really great character work too. It means you don’t view Charlize Theron’s character as some kind of invincible hero, you view her as a human who is potentially one mistake away from being severely injured.
Wonder Woman: No Mans Land
No Mans Land. If you want to explain Wonder Woman as a character, and as a feminist icon, show this scene. Without a doubt the best moment in the DC cinematic universe, by a long shot. This film may have been underappreciated when it comes to the oscars (which is something I don’t agree with, but I get why), but this scene is something that I feel deserves to be seen by everybody.
Spiderman Homecoming: The Car Scene
You know the one, where Michael Keaton’s character is taking Peter Parker to the school dance and slowly comes to the realisation of who he is. Marvel films have had great action set pieces in films lately, but this is a great character piece. It’s a testament to both the script and the performances that what could have been dull turned into one of the tensest scenes of the year.
A Monster Calls: The Stories
This was a great film, super depressing and wonderful. But there were moments throughout the film where it became magnificent. Whilst the Liam Neeson tree was telling stories (it’s an odd film) the art style switches from a normal live-action film to something which can be best described as a living water-colour painting. The images flow through each other like they’re made of water showing off a multitude of colours leaving the viewer gobsmacked at the pure unrelenting beauty of the whole thing. This is the one out of the three that you might not have seen, so here’s the scene in question:
Not just a good film, a very very important one too. This is like the fourth time I’ve had to talk about how much I love this film in these end of year blogs. It’s had almost everything you need. Great story, great actors, great script, great directing, not too many cliches. This film will be spoken about for years to come, and hopefully, lead to a resurgence in socio-political horror.
More than just a superhero film, a great western tale about morality and mortality, with a great performance by Dafne Keen too.
Yes, Get Out is a better horror film. But this was more than that. This was a great coming of age film. Genuinely heartwarming with characters it’s impossible to not to love.
The Big Sick
I’m a sucker for romcoms, and I’m a sucker for depressing bleak films. Who’d have thought they’d be a film that can combine both? Made all the better for the fact it’s based on a true story. Also the winner of the “Most surprising cameo by a cast member of Crazy Ex Girlfriend” award, which doesn’t exist as an award, but if it did, this would win it, and Downsizing would win the award for 2018, and nothing else because it was dull.
The “Well I Liked It” Award
Murder On The Orient Express (Rotten Tomato Score: 57%)
The visuals alone should have merited a higher score for this. I think part of the dislike for this is just because it’s a remake. Every single remake has had people bitch that it’s different from the original (I bet back in the day people were complaining that DeNiro in Cape Fear wasn’t as good as Robert Mitchum in the original). Yes, the glut of remakes is a problem. Actually, no, strike that, the glut of lazy remakes is a problem. You can remake anything you want as long as you put the effort in. I would much rather watch a remake made with love than an original idea made “just because”.
Table 19 (Rotten Tomato Score: 26%)
I’d accept a low 50 score for this, but 26 is far far too low. Incredibly funny, great performances and a magnificent script. I’m a sucker for great dialogue, which this had in spades.
The Last Word (Rotten Tomato Score: 37%)
Do people just not appreciate dialogue any more? Yes, the story was cliche at times, but the way it told it was magnificent. Also it should be commended for promising something dark, and then delivering on it rather than just going for the happily ever after ending.
Best Film To Look At
Blade Runner 2049
Because LOOK AT IT!
Do I actually need to say anything else? It looks so gorgeous I almost made an audible response so many times. Almost every shot could be used as a poster.
Mainly because it proved that spectacle cinema can still work in this day and age. I’m a cynical person so assumed it would have no impression on me. Yet I was amazed when I watched it. Was sucked into the universe completely.
Superbly done. Also had one of my favourite endings ever. It made it look like it had a “slightly unhappy but full of hope” ending, then it went the other way and made it super depressing. Most of the film takes place underwater, and it looks gorgeous. There’s one scene where a flare is going through the ocean water and you it’s almost complete darkness apart from the small flare making its way up, beautifully done. Since most of the film is underwater it relies heavily on performance. Luckily Mandy Moore completely knocks it out the arena with her performance in this
-Getting a sequel. Because sequels to shark films always go well. Advice; don’t go 3D and hire Michael Caine.
A Monster Calls
This is not an easy film to watch on an emotional level, almost seems like it’s attempting to emotionally blackmail the audience. It’s kind of a mix between Pan’s Labyrinth and a Neil Gaiman book, sort of a modern-day fairy tale. There are moments whilst the tree is telling stories (it’s an odd film) where the film switches visual styles so it almost becomes a living watercolour painting, it’s awe-inspiring and genuinely new, never seen anything that was done like this (the closest is when Hermione was telling the stories of the Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the style switched to a weird animated one). The only previous film I’ve seen of the director was The Impossible, and that was in 2012 so can’t remember too much about it, but I can remember being really impressed with the way he directed certain moments in it and was really good at creating visual tension, which is a good sign for his next film; the Jurassic World sequel
+The art styles when the monster is telling the story
-Longer than it needs to be. Sigourney Weaver’s accent wavers.
Like a companion piece to John Wick, looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. Highly recommend seeing this.
+THAT scene. Also the soundtrack.
-Comparisons to John Wick are inevitable.
The opening scene alone ranks it among one of the best films of the year. Very well done. Great films usually inspire you into film-making. I think this has the opposite, this is like “yeah we can’t match that”. Bound to inspire a lot of poorly-done imitators. Yes, the plot is wafer thin, but it’s so fun you don’t notice. You don’t sit there thinking “well I know how this story is going to end”, you think “oh my God! Did you see that?”. It’s a non-blockbuster version of spectacle cinema. Everything about the way it’s made just works, the way the music complements the action and vice versa, the way the car chases are impressive without being unrealistic, the fact that Jon Hamm continues to exist.
The love and dedication that goes into this is obvious. This was not “film by committee”, this was a true passion project, and it shows through every inch of the screen. It’s also surprisingly American. The open road, the American dream, diners with endless coffee are all essential to the story, so it’s weird that such an American film was made by a Brit, this feels like the film where Edgar Wright has finally stepped away from under the shadow of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
+A technical masterpiece.
-The plot is wafer thin. And the female characters are woefully underwritten. Oh, and it’s got Kevin Spacey in it which makes it an uncomfortable watch.
Blade Runner 2049
I have not seen the original film, don’t get me wrong, I am aware of the film, and it’s importance, and I understand a few references to it. This, combined with lots of people saying they didn’t understand this film and that it was too complex, made me think that I would hate this film. Not because of what the film is, but because I just wouldn’t get it. My response was going to be “it’s good, it’s just not for me, and I was really confused”. Well, I was confused, I was confused by the confusion. People are talking about it as if it’s a really complex plot where you have to pay close attention to everything in every scene and do a lot of research beforehand to understand, I knew nothing and still knew what was going on, it’s not that complex if you’re paying even the smallest amount of attention. I mean, I understood it and I’m basically a moron.
Was surprised that Harrison Ford didn’t appear until MUCH later than I thought he would. I expected him to make an appearance at about the 1/3 mark. Nope, it was more like the 2/3 mark. Which was a bit strange as he was all over the marketing campaign and was the lead in the original, so a lot of people would have been waiting around him to appear. Although I suppose this did mean that by the time he did appear, everybody was already invested into the story, so he didn’t really take away from Gosling. Make no mistake, this is Gosling’s film, and he nails it. Although the supporting cast does a great job too, So many of your new favourite actress’s will be in this film. A lot of unknowns were cast, yet gave amazing performances. Ana De Armas and Carla Juri deserve special mentions. They both portray their characters with enough vulnerability to make them believable, yet enough determination that they fit this universe. Their characters were great too, you imagined they all had lives outside of this film, they exist on their own terms, not just related to the story. It felt like you could write entire novels based around them.
The world itself was beautifully created as well, not just visually (although it was visually stunning), but also in terms of believability. Those of you who read the review of Valerian will know how important I consider world building to be, particularly in this genre, for films like this the universe it’s set in is almost a character in itself, so if you don’t do that well it really effects it. Done really well in this though, everything looks just dirty enough to be real, yet clean enough to be futuristic. On that note; this film looks SUPERB. You could pause this at almost any point in the film and use that as a poster. This, combined with Arrival last year must surely make Denis Villeneuve one of the best-regarded directors around.
I also liked how the story threw a genuine curveball in the closing stretch. I do like a good twist if it’s well done. That’s the trouble with a lot of plot swerves, they come out of nowhere and make no sense. A good one makes sense, a GREAT one will be so logical you’ll feel stupid for not realising it sooner. So in summary, this is going to be one of those films that pretentious film buffs constantly try to show you, let them.
+LOOK AT IT! Seriously, just look at it.
-Not a “popcorn film”, in the slightest, so won’t appeal to everyone.
Oh, it’s flawed as hell (particularly in terms of time and establishing exactly “when” certain scenes take place in relation to each other) but all those flaws do is take it from a 10/10 to a solid 8. Anne Hathaway gives a performance which equals Rachel Getting Married (which if you haven’t seen, you really should, it’s superb), and Jason Sudeikis is creepier than I ever thought he could be, the kind of performance which makes you think he could easily move into more dramatic roles, or play a serial killer. So well written too, so much so that I immediately looked into the writer and made a note to watch everything he’s done. It’s also extremely unique, I can’t think of a film to compare it too, stands alone in a genre of one, and I can’t see anybody doing it better.
+Unique story wonderfully told
-As creepy as the guy is, his motivations never really ring true.
“You know how films have gunfights between people? Imagine if that was an entire film” “you’re fired”. That’s what should have happened. Instead, we got this, and it is glorious. Definitely worth a watch as a curiosity. It is essentially a gunfight in a warehouse, for an entire film. But it’s done so well that you’re never bored, you never sit there waiting for it to end. It helps that the gunfights are really well choreographed, not every bullet hits, people conserve ammo when they need to, and bullets to the arms actually do damage as opposed to just “ouch, that arm is slightly weaker now”.
+It works. As a concept it really shouldn’t work, but it does, and it’s superb.
There’s a French film from 2002 called Irréversible, it’s a weird art-house psychological horror that’s apparently disturbing in many ways. During a large section of the film there’s a noise played throughout that’s played at such a frequency that it’s almost inaudible; this was done as a sound played at that level causes nausea and sickness. I should note there’s a chance that this is just an urban legend, but truth be told I don’t want to research it in case it’s not true, it’s too magical for me to find out it’s false. But what does that have to do with this film? Well that feeling, that sense of unease, is what this entire film is about. There’s not many scares in the traditional sense, it’s just almost two hours of something being slightly “off”.
There’s a lot of VERY good eye-acting in this film. I know that sounds stupid but there’s a lot of moments in this film which are enhanced by the way the actors utilise their eyes. A lot of times things that ordinarily would take a lot of dialogue to say is done just via an eye movement. Tremendous showcase of acting skills, and luckily it’s in a very important film. Yes, this film does touch on a lot of racial issues, but not the usual “we’re from Alabama, and we don’t like those coloured folk”. The racism in here is very different, it comes not from anger or hate, but from a fetishisation of black people, a condescending view of them as being “genetically superior” but intellectually lacking. One which is like “think what they could do if they had the mind of a white person”. As such the film has a weird dynamic where the villains kind of worship the heroes. Very weird, very unique, and VERY well done.
This film was written and directed by Jordan Peele, who I’ve only seen in Key & Peele (a sketch show on Comedy Central that I really need to get around to watching one day), one of the voices in Storks (animated children’s comedy that’s actually better than you think it would be), and Keanu (an action comedy film about someone getting a cat from a Mexican drug lord). As such I always thought of him as a comedic person, I never thought he’d be able to transfer his skills to horror so effectively. I was wrong, he did brilliantly, I’ll go as far as to say it’s one of the best directorial debuts I’ve seen in a long time, which considering he’s basically committing genre adultery is impressive. Don’t get me wrong, it is still very very funny and the mood whiplash between horror and comedy is very well balanced. Usually in films like this you run the risk of having the comedy make the horror seem less scary, it doesn’t enhance the film, it undercuts it and stops you taking it seriously, usually because the comedy comes from a character not taking the situation seriously, they’re being chased by a monster/demon/dishwasher and they stop to make jokes. The way they do the comedy in here is believable, you can tell the jokes are being made by the characters to help them deal with the situations, and most of them are made by a character who isn’t directly involved in it, so is literally distanced from the situation already. This isn’t comedy-horror done like a mid-90’s slasher film, this is comedy-horror done like An American Werewolf In London. Seriously, go see this film. In fact, you could say “Get Out, to go see this film”. You could say that, but you’d be making a really obvious comment and would just come off looking like an idiot.
+The sense of unease that’s present throughout. Its greatness increases on second watch.
-There are not more films like it.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2
Did you enjoy the first one? Then you’ll enjoy this. Just as impressive, funny, and brilliant as the first one.
+Has the emotion that the first one was lacking.
-Apart from that, it’s not that different. Also, the pacing is all over the place.
Happy Death Day
This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.
+Incredibly funny, and with a compelling central mystery.
-Not scary enough.
Oh this was good. This was very good. Get Out was more of a social drama, and Happy Death Day was more comedy, but in terms of pure visceral horror, this one wins hands down. Eye openingly scary. So scary that clowns complained, yet manufacturers of red balloons didn’t, probably because it’s led to an increase of people buying them. Horror remakes are always hard, because they will be compared to the original, and people hate change so usually will detest anything different, but if you don’t do it differently then you end up with Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. So essentially you need to keep same tone, but add a new take on it. This does it, and does it well. Oddly enough it’s kind of sweet as well, but it does have to be because it’s SUCH a character driven film so you need to care for these characters.
John Wick Chapter 2
If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll enjoy this. It’s basically the first film, but more so and in a way that never feels like it’s walking in the same footsteps. One of the first times in a while I remember leaving the cinema and being incredibly excited for the sequel.
+Masterfully well made.
-Does occasionally seem like it was just done to set up a sequel.
This film was what I expected to be, and to be honest it’s what it needed to be; which is the first truly mature comic book film in a long time. Some people would say that Deadpool deserves that accolade, but I wouldn’t count that as mature. It had lots of blood and adult content, but it was very silly and lowest common denominator, don’t get me wrong, I do love that film (it was one of my favourites from last year), but it’s not mature at all. One of the best compliments you can give this film is that it is a fantastic film, not “fantastic for a comic book movie”, on its own terms it’s a fantastic film. There’s going to be a lot of people who find this film dull, it takes quite some time for certain things to happen but it’s brilliant. Not every film has to be fast food, designed to be satisfactory but finished quickly, this film is more like a three course meal at a restaurant, you savour every moment and really take your time with it, so that when it’s over you feel completely satisfied and all you can do is sit there and recover from the brilliance you just consumed. The ending of this film will be talked about, not here as you can’t without spoiling it. It is brilliantly done though, it’s an ending which this series has truly deserved, and it ends with a Johnny Cash song, which most comic book films wouldn’t be able to do but for here it fits. It is pretty much a modern western, a tale of a retired gunslinger coming back for one more gunfight, the last outlaw, in a time and place without purpose and that has moved on without him, causing him to need to go out in a blaze of glory.
+The first comic book movie I’d describe as a true cinematic masterpiece.
-Very underwhelming villains.
The plot was simplistic but it was still better than at least 50% of MCU films purely because it had a compelling villain. Michael Keaton’s character (he plays some sort of Birdman) makes sense. You’re not watching it thinking “what a terrible person, glad he’s not real”, you’re thinking “he’s actually making a lot of sense. I see where he’s coming from, and in a way, I agree with him”. He’s the most compelling villain in the MCU so far, and the performance matches the writing. A lot of comic book fans were disappointed that they changed his appearance for the films, I don’t particularly care about it to be honest, mainly because it would be really hard to take THIS seriously.
I know that this talk about “taking it seriously” makes this sound like it’s attempting to be super serious and gritty, thank God they didn’t do that, this film is fun as hell. Even the colours are better than lots of superhero films. A lot of films have orange and blue as the main colours, but use them against dark backdrops, this uses those colours but uses them against light. It’s very summer-ey in appearance. It’s also really funny. The characters are well written and have great lines, Zendeya’s character, in particular, is a great collection of sarcasm and apathy which I really identify with for some reason. She has the best lines throughout and is one of the films many comedic highlights. In terms of comedy though, most of the best moments from the non-main characters belong to Jacob Batalon’s Ned, who absolutely owns his role as “guy in a chair”. He also helps provide an audience surrogate, since the film starts with Parker already as hero, many people expected the origin to either be ignored, or told in flashbacks. It did neither, it had Ned ask questions and we found out small details from that, not so much that we were re-covering old ground, and not so little that people new to the franchise were confused. So in summary; very good, very fun, and I think it’s safe to say that Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man, although part of that is due to the way he’s written, he’s actually written as an adolescent, the villains he faces aren’t ones who are going to destroy the world, the main villain is basically an unfriendly neighbourhood villain.
+Tom Holland is perfect.
-Not entirely sure it works as a standalone film. Bit too heavily indebted to other MCU films.
I enjoyed it, a lot. It’s what I deem “social mystery” film. Where the audience has to work out why certain characters are who they are, what caused them to be like that. It’s like an Agatha Christie murder mystery if the victim was good manners. It’s a hard film to describe the plot about without it sounding really bad, it’s mostly just people talking. But the characters are so well created and acted that it works. A lot of people dislike this film, and I kind of see why, nothing really happens. But to me, it was wonderful, one of the most emotionally honest films I’ve seen in a while.
+Really, really funny.
-Attempt at emotional heartpull seems a bit obvious.
The Big Sick
Incredibly funny, and with the right amount of heart. You’d need to be made of stone not to feel touched by this film. The characters are so well-written as well, every character seems fully fleshed out. They seem like they exist outside of the film.
They’re basically my kryptonite, especially dialogue. I’m a sucker for great dialogue. It’s also a genre that doesn’t really get affected too badly by the quality of the way you’re viewing it. Some genres are really badly affected by what you watch them on. Horror, for example, is not exactly something you can appreciate watching on a small television screen on an airplane. With advances in technology happening at an astronomical rate, visual spectacle fades, good writing doesn’t. The best rom-com’s; When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall etc, all have one thing in common; fantastic writing. You can watch them again and again and still love them. They also have a wide audience. As much as I do love odd films like Buried (Ryan Reynolds in a box), Bogowie (a Polish film about heart transplant) and Four Lions (a comedy about suicide bombers), I’m not stupid enough to think they have mass appeal. They’re too weird. Rom-coms are for everyone though. They have universal themes that almost everybody can identify with. So where does this film stand compared to the greats of the genre? It’s a little difficult to tell at the moment, but I have a feeling that if I was to sit down in six years time and watch this, I’ll still love it. It also has the best 9/11 joke you’ll likely to hear all year.
+Will make you laugh cry.
– As much as he nails the performance 95% of the time, there are a few heavily emotional moments where Kumail Nanjiani looks like he’s desperately hiding a smirk, robbing the scene of some of the emotion
The Death Of Stalin
Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.
+Satire that bites so hard it leaves teeth marks.
-Historically innacurate at times. Also, Jeffrey Tambor in it can make it difficult to watch in light of recent allegations.
The Last Word
Holy crap where did this come from? It’s like High Fidelity mixed with Christmas Carol. Really good. I really wish this film had a better marketing campaign so that more people would have seen it. Genuinely one of my cinematic highlights of the year. Seemingly just with me though, a lot of reviewers really hate. I loved it though, very dialogue and character-heavy. Genuinely sweet and heartwarming, there’s a scene near the end which is a bit “meh”, but other than that I loved it. A story about an elderly woman who hires someone to write her obituary before she dies, only a lot better than I made it sound.
+The dialogue. Specifically, as it relates to the lead. So fantastic.
-Not promoted by the studio, like, at all.
The Lego Batman Movie
Usuall, it’s taken me about ten minutes into a film to think “okay I’m into this”, this film sold me in the first sentence. From the opening narration:
“Black. All important movies start with a black screen. And music. Edgy, scary music that would make a parent or studio executive nervous. And logos. Really long and dramatic logos. DC. The house that Batman built. Yeah, what Superman? Come at me bro. I’m your kryptonite”
That sets up exactly what type of film you’re about to watch; a film that’s very silly, and gloriously so. It then gets sillier, there’s an odd faux-mance between Batman and the Joker which culminates in Joker teaming up with Voldemort, Sauron, Godzilla and King Kong. Yes, this film is silly, but you can tell that whilst the film-makers are making jokes about Batman and the mythos, they do have a genuine love for the character and his world, they’ve clearly done their research. References to not only previous films, but also very very obscure villains (who’d have thought that Condiment Man would finally make an appearance?). The story is really good too. There’s a tendency in comedy films to think the story isn’t important, this is very very wrong. Perfect example of this is Airplane, that film only works because of the story, yes the jokes are funny, but they’re funny within the context of a serious situation, the story itself isn’t comedic, but it has comedic situations in it. My rule of thumb for determining whether a comedy films story is good is this: would the plot also as a serious film? I think this one would work, it’s a story about a lonesome superhero dealing with his isolation whilst also maintaining a mutually destructive rivalry with the Joker (which is also one of the themes from the seminal piece The Killing Joke). Since I saw it I’ve been trying to think how to sum it up in one sentence, and I think I’ve finally found it. The sentence which best describes everything about this film, so here it is: this film is basically Deadpool for children. And we all know how great Deadpool was.
Plus, there’s a Christian group in America protesting it and calling it “gay propaganda”, so you have to see it, even if only to annoy them.
+Trying to list all the references this film makes will make your head explode in nerdgastic joy.
-Not much of a sense of tension at any point.
War For The Planet Of The Apes
A stunning end to one of the best trilogies of the last few years. Some people considered the franchise dead in the water after the Tim Burton version, the knives really were out for Rise, but it managed to become highly regarded not just by fans of the franchise, but by the general public. It made weirdly concept sci-fi cool again.
+The ending that this trilogy deserves.
-The realisation that the trilogy has missed out on a lot of opportunities it will now never take.
I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a watercolour painting. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing, like they want to take every possible moment to leave a good impression on the audience. This film is every bit as fantastic as BvS was critically reviled.
+Gal Gadot. This is her film and she owns it.
-Pretty bad villain. Which I’ve just realised is consistent for a lot of superhero films lately. That’s odd as normally villains are the most interesting part, yet for last few years a lot of them have been really bland.
So, that’s 2017 in review. Next week will be the 2017 film awards, then it’s back to usual with random reviews and opinion pieces every monday. And to answer the question; I never got to see Disaster Artist.
This was originally going to be a bit higher, but then I realised this has a few advantages over the one in 10, and as such should have been better. It had a higher budget, a wider cinema release, and an actual advertising campaign. Was actually kind of looking forward to this as it seemed intriguing. I thought at the very least it would be an interesting watch. I was wrong. It was boring, pointless, and did the whole “scary thing, scary thing, actually those scary things didn’t actually happen so nothing matters, repeat” thing that I hate about modern horror. Also, it has a stupid name.
12. Wish Upon
Have you heard of this film? No, there’s a good reason for that. It’s not great, the story is stupid, the characters are annoying as hell, and it’s not even original. Every idea it has comes from a better film. It also meant that I could no longer put Joey King’s performance in Going In Style in my “end of year notable mentions” list, which I’m sure she’s absolutely devastated about.
11. The Belko Experiment
Not the worst film, but definitely the most disappointing. I expected this to be either fun or smart, it was neither. Didn’t help that it completely ran out of ideas before the trailer ended. If this was 20 minutes long I’d have loved it. It just didn’t have enough ideas to stretch to a feature.
10. Annabelle: Creation
Well it was a LOT better than Annabelle (or as I call it: Annabelle, fuck that movie). But it’s a prequel to an origin story, which makes me uncomfortable. Some very good performances in it, but ultimately rather forgettable (very forgettable actually, I only just realised that for some reason this wasn’t on my list of films seen this year).
Only ahead of Annabelle based on thing: the PHENOMENAL opening scene. Sadly almost negated by the ending being in the trailer.
A fun film, albeit kind of disposable and not one I ever really need to see again.
If you bring back a dead franchise, you best do it well. You need it to justify it’s own existence. This doesn’t really do that, it seems like just the next step in a yearly franchise. It doesn’t need to exist, adds nothing new, doesn’t really do much. This does something worse than being bad, it’s pointless.
6. A Cure For Wellness
This film disturbed me. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I liked it, but wouldn’t really say I enjoyed it. Pretty gross, but a fascinating watch. Seriously, this film has a visual style and it just runs with it. I’m not sure whether Dane DeHaan is supposed to be creepy at the end, or whether it’s just because he looks kind of creepy. Either way, it worked, he was great in this. As was Mia Goth. This is one of those films I would definitely recommend you watch at least once. Actually, you don’t really watch this, you experience it.
As I said in August: “The best horror film about a pregnant woman being controlled by a homicidal fetus that I’ve ever seen.”.
Still the case. A great British horror quirky slice of cinema. Definitely worth a watch.
4. The Ritual
The book is now on my “to-read” list. Not a nice watch, but a very very good one. Chilling to the bone with a great story and remarkable performances. Probably going to be one of those films that are going to be really hard to find on DVD, I hope not as it would be a great Halloween watch.
3. Happy Death Day
This was hard to place, as a film it was great, as a horror it was good. This is mainly here to break up the depressing creepiness of this list. Also, it was a new idea that was risky and worked, I like to reward things like that.
Holy crap! Holy crap this was great. Everyone needs to not just watch this, but to own it and cherish it. This had a lot working against it, mainly because it was a remake. If this failed it would have failed spectacularly. Luckily it succeeded, and it’s easy to see why. Good story, fantastic setting up of the universe, great performances, and most importantly, it’s fucking terrifying.
1. Get Out
This was close. Very, very close. If you asked me to do this again on a different day there’s a good chance the top two on this could be switch around. Today I’m favouring this because what’s on my mind is that weird feeling I had when watching this film. It wasn’t “arrrrrrgh” it was just 2 hours of everything being ever so slightly off somehow. Deeply, deeply unsettling and should win ALL THE AWARDS. Yup, even best musical, it’s that damn good.
Just as depressing as the film, actually slightly more so. This isn’t something you enjoy as such, but it is something you appreciate because of how brilliant and heartbreaking it is. Also, the book I got looked beautiful in terms of artwork, is like everything was drawn with charcoal, really suited it. Although the film had a unique look as well, but that was more “watercolours”, this is very different, childlike, but an advanced child.
Ayoade On Ayoade
I got this, was a fun read, but I don’t need to read it again. I can’t imagine what it’s like to read this if you have no idea who he is.
Bachelor Number 2
I actually love Aimee Mann, first heard her on an Anti-Valentines Day radio show. That single show was probably the most influential radio show I’ve ever heard, I got into Aimee Mann, Regina Spektor, and a few other bands whose names don’t occur to me anymore (one was basically a woman leaving a series of increasingly angry voicemail messages set to a dance beat, loved it for some reason). I describe Aimee Mann’s music as basically “Acoustic Snark”. She’s best known for her work on the Magnolia soundtrack (almost said Memento there for no reason whatsoever, because they both begin with M? That’s stupid even for my mind, might as well have said Monty Python And The Holy Grail, that’s an M too) but her other stuff is great too (in particular The Forgotten Arm, and yes, I would understand it if you forgot that prior to this was a full sentence that you forgot how it began, what with the extended parenthesis).
Kind of sweet. You can tell Pacino is having the time of his life here, it seems like the role was written for him. A very well-written and performed film, with a pretty cool soundtrack. When I first saw it I expected it to be just okay but it’s actually really good. The music is good, the performances are good, and the background characters are rich in terms of characterisation. The trouble with a lot of films is making everybody seem like they’re actual people, making them seem like they exist when the cameras aren’t pointed at them. This does that very well, even the minor characters feel fleshed out.
This film suffers from the same problem as a lot of films about the subject do, the villains are so 2-dimensional that it’s hard to buy into the film. The trouble with doing films about race set in 1960’s etc US is that you can’t create a compelling villain. To me, a good villain is just a misguided hero, one where you can kind of see their point. You can’t have that with this, the bad guys are so obviously wrong they’re impossible to defend, they’re obviously pricks. Which is depressing as that’s what it was like back then, a lot of people in power were indefensible pricks who deserved to be punched in the kidneys. Also, the pacing is weird, you have an entire subplot about a band that doesn’t really add anything except 30 minutes to the runtime.
Pointless. Not entirely sure why this exists. Slightly funny in parts but seems like one of those films that perpetually came out a few years ago and you missed it and forgot it exists.
Brave move killing off who they did. It’s weird as it’s not really sure what it wants to be, is it a remake, a sequel, or something entirely new? Nobody knows, least of all the film itself.
One of the very early Pixar films. Shows a lot of promise but lacks that certain Pixar magic. They got a lot better but you can see the early glimpses of what makes Pixar pixar.
How To Be A Serial Killer
Really enjoyed this. A lot of fun, the kind of film I wish I wrote. Funny, original, and stylish.
Funny, crude, but the second film is a massive disappointment. Weird how quickly this series has left the public consciousness.
Wonderful soundtrack. Some films have had better songs, but few films I’ve seen this year have had songs which suit the film better.
The best use of George Michael in cinema. Ever. Has a great ending too.
Probably the only sitcom I’ver ever seen which features a scene where the main character tries to fashion a splint out of ice lolly sticks so that they can rape a guy who will stop everyone they’ve had sex with dying.
Solace Of The Road
Not too great a start, but a great closing stretch. The writing reminded me very much of someone I went to uni with, but less good.
The Mountain Between Us
When it was just “two people trapped on a mountain”, was a superb film. Once they added the romance bit I kind of tapped out, just didn’t work at all. And the “realisation shot” was straight out of a low-budget music video for a James Blunt soundalike.
This film did something I will forever love it for; it put most the bits from the trailer in the opening half. I liked this as it meant you weren’t thinking “ok, what from the trailer haven’t I seen yet?”. Chilling, well told and well performed. Book is now on my “to-read” list.
A lot more brutal than I expected. The reveal of the killer could have been done better, and it juggled too many characters at once so was a bit of a bloated mess. Not as terrible as I thought it would be though.
The Young Offenders
Kind of charming, rather funny. Has a scene where a disabled drug dealer shoots someone with a nail gun. Seems like a tv show, which as of next year it will be, and I can’t wait.
You Can’t Kill Stephen King
Not a fan. I expected it to be funny and meta, but was just a bit nonsensical. Just wasn’t very fun. Not saying it was serious, far from it, it just seemed a bit “meh”, the film equivalent of dust in the wind.